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Jon H

Haley's solo of Aguja Guillaumet - Technique?

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I was just re-watching that bad ass POV video of Colin Haley's solo in Patagonia (link HERE if you haven't seen it) and I'm having trouble figuring out his self belay system.


Does anyone know anything about it or have you read about it? The viewer never sees what device he has on his harness, so I suppose the only way to know would be from an interview/slideshow where he "spilled the beans" so to speak. Also, how was the whole system rigged?


Did he have to rap down, unfix his anchor, and then jug the pitch again?


Or did he only place pro for a single pitch/ropelength, and therefore not need to do any rapping/jugging/backcleaning? But if this is the case, how did he get his rope back for the rappel?


Also - what rope was that? It looked awfully skinny and awfully static (i.e. thin white cord with no colorful markings).


If anyone has any insight to share it would be greatly appreciated.

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Great video. He did reply to a thread on the Black Diamond website that may answer some of your questions, quoted here ( and linked here) :


"In response to a few of the questions:


The helmet cam I used to shoot this is the "Contour HD" by a Seattle company called "VHoldr."


The rope is the "6mm Alpine Personal Escape Rope," by Esprit Ropes in Toronto. It is an excellent rap/tag line I think. No special core - all nylon. It has a burly sheath. It is quite stiff, which is always a plus in super skinny ropes, because the stiff rap lines tangle less.


The gloves are indeed the Torque Gloves - not super warm, but great dexterity. I had a pair of Punisher gloves in my jacket in case it got colder, but never had to use them.


As for the one pitch where I belayed, it is a rudimentary technique, that in Yosemite is often referred to as "back-looping." The idea is to build a multi-directional anchor at the base of the questionable terrain, thread your rope through this anchor, attach yourself to both strands of the rope (whether with knots, hitches, or devices), and climb up, risking a factor 2 fall onto your anchor. The advantage over a traditional self-belay is that you can simply pull your rope up from above afterwards, rather than having to rappel down and prusik back up. If you are descending the same route that you are climbing (such as I was in this video), then you can clip both strands through intermediate pieces of protection (such as the cams I was placing in this video), because you know that you can retrieve them on your descent, to negate the possibility of taking a factor 2 fall. And just to be clear - this is NOT a safe, or accepted technique for self-belaying - it is a technique that I chose to use on a section of climbing that was only just barely hard enough that I wasn't comfortable free-soloing it. It is still "sketchy," and a guaranteed way to fail your UIAGM alpine exam!


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Colin's Blog Says:

The crux pitch is a short 5.9 dihedral, which with rock shoes I would have been happy to free-solo, but with boots and gloves I decided here to use a rudimentary self-belay. Since I knew I would be rappelling down the same route, I could leave several nuts and cams on this pitch for my self-belay and retrieve them on the descent.


I'm guessing he tied into both ends of the rope, clipped a bottom anchor into the middle point of the rope, and clipped the anchored strands of rope to himself with an autolocking belay device. Then fed out enough slack to get a few moves, and climbed, and fed out more slack. At the end of a pitch, he untied one end of the rope, pulled it through (rope goes down, through bottom anchor, back up to him), leaving the gear to clean later.

Edited by dennyt

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Thanks for the info matchswain, that pretty much clears everything up. Gracias!

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